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What we learned as mistakes hurt 49ers in loss to Seahawks

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SEATTLE — These are not the same Seattle Seahawks that have tormented the 49ers many times over the past decade.

This Pete Carroll team is lacking a lot — including a realistic shot at making the playoffs.

But the Seahawks still have enough talent and moxie to give the 49ers all kinds of fits, and they were able to hold on to win 30-23. The 49ers saw an end to their three-game win streak. They remain in the No. 7 spot in the NFC playoff picture with a 6-6 record.

The game went down to the closing seconds.

After Azeez Al-Shaair forced a fumble that Dontae Johnson recovered at the 49ers' 2-yard line with four minutes remaining, the 49ers had one final shot to tie the score in the closing seconds.

But Jimmy Garoppolo's final two pass attempts intended for Trent Sherfield fell incomplete, including the fourth-down play from the 3-yard line that was batted down by Seattle defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Both plays were designed for George Kittle, but the Seahawks' defensive forced Garoppolo to look elsewhere.

Here are three takeaways from the 49ers’ Week 13 game:

49ers mistakes open door

The 49ers were sloppy. They made a couple of big blunders on special teams and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw two interceptions after doing a good job of taking care of the football in recent weeks.

The 49ers gave up a touchdown on a fake punt to open the game. Then, return man Travis Benjamin fumbled the kickoff to open the second half.

 

Those plays, along with Garoppolo’s two picks, gave the Seahawks enough of an opening on Sunday.

After the Seahawks got nothing going against the 49ers’ defense on their first possession of the game, it looked like a three-and-out.

But the expected punt never happened.

The Seahawks caught the 49ers’ special-teams unit by surprise with a direct snap to up-back Travis Homer, who took it over the left side untouched for a 73-yard touchdown run.

When the teams met in Week 4, the 49ers outgained Seattle 457 to 234. The 49ers made some critical mistakes on special teams, and they lost 28-21.

With the score tied in the third quarter, Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs intercepted Garoppolo’s pass for George Kittle. Seattle cashed it in with Russell Wilson’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett for a 30-23 lead.

Garoppolo completed 20 of 30 passes for 299 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

49ers' depth issues at cornerback

The 49ers’ defense had control of the game through most of the first half.

The defensive line led the way with Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead getting sacks, and nose tackle D.J. Jones clogging up the middle.

But, then, starting cornerback Emmanuel Moseley was sidelined with a right ankle injury. He did not return.

Once Moseley left the lineup, Wilson went after rookie cornerback Deommodore Lenoir again and again.

The Seahawks could not get anything going with their passing game until a third-and-14 play in the middle of the second quarter. Wilson found Metcalf for a 33-yard gain against Lenoir’s coverage.

That play seemed to get the Seahawks’ offense rolling.

Lenoir later committed a pass-interference penalty in the end zone, then was beaten for a 7-yard touchdown against rookie Dee Eskridge before the end of the half.

The 49ers benched Lenoir at halftime, and veteran Dontae Johnson took over.

The 49ers helped the Seahawks out, too. Defensive linemen Arden Key and Charles Omenihu were called for roughing-the-passer penalties to account for 30 yards on the touchdown drive before the end of the half.

Wilson finished with 30 completions on 37 attempts for 231 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Kittle picks up slack for Deebo

The question entering the game was how the 49ers were going to compensate for the loss of their best offensive player of the season?

The answer: Turn to their best offensive player of previous seasons.

With Deebo Samuel sidelined with a groin injury, tight end George Kittle was quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s go-to guy in the first half.

Kittle was targeted seven times, and Kittle caught five passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the first 30 minutes of the game.

Kittle had a leaping 24-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. He later added a 48-yard catch and run, on which he somehow remained inbounds after picking up a key block from Jauan Jennings along the left sideline late in the first half.

It was the second 100-yard performance of the season for Kittle, whose previous season-best was a six-catch, 101-yard showing against the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 7.

 

However, Kittle did not catch any passes in the third quarter and the 49ers' offense stalled.

Kittle did pick up a handful of key catches on the 49ers' final drive that ended with a turnover on downs at the Seahawks' three-yard line. Kittle finished with nine catches for 181 yards.

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